In the recent Connections- India we mentioned Bill Edrich. Bill did not play an outstanding part in the history of Tottenham Hotspur featuring in just twenty games with four goals. However his story is worth retelling as he did appear on postage stamps (top image), become a test cricketer and a decorated war hero. He also lived through an earthquake whilst playing As well as being our outside left.
Bill was born in Norfolk in March 1916. He was an amateur with Norwich City and had played for the county before moving to live in London so he would qualify to play his cricket for Middlesex. Tottenham signed him as an amateur in 1935 and he joined the Northfleet nursery side.
Within a year he turned professional and had made his league debut V Blackpool in November 1935 in a 3-1 win at home coming in for Willie Evans. The following week he scored our goal as we lost away to Nottingham Forest and retained his place for five games, playing nine in total that season as we finished fifth.
He turned out another eleven games the following year scoring three more goals and looked like he would have a successful career as a winger, known for his pace and the ability to deliver an accurate cross.
Cricket however remained his great love and when he had the opportunity to tour India in the winter of 1937 with Lord Tennyson’s XI Spurs agreed to release him from his contract so that he could join the party. They did however retain his registration in case some other club attempted to sign him upon his return, only releasing it in 1947.
Bill on the right in Lahore in November 1937 with Norman Yardley. In an unofficial test match V India. The visitors won by nine wickets, in part to their opening stand of 132. During the game play was held up by an earthquake.
The trip to India proved successful and he did not return to full time football. When the Second World War commenced he joined the RAF. During this time when not flying he did turn out for Chelmsford City in the Southern League, Bournemouth and Lincoln City.
Whilst serving in the RAF he would become a squadron Leader flying Blenheim light bombers and won the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), He led the raid on Cologne in 1941 which had a direct influence on his life. The raid has been described as ‘The RAF’s most audacious and dangerous low level raid.’
Nearly a quarter of the planes were shot down. He later told the tale that at one point an enemy plane flew in so close he thought he was dead, at that point either the Germans guns jammed or he run out of ammunition as he did not open fire. Bill claims that as the two planes passed each other he made eye contact with the other pilot and that day changed his outlook on life. He described surviving the war as ‘an immense relief’ and many of his friends feel that that raid led him to ensuring he enjoyed the rest of his life to the full. Had he lived today the tabloid newspapers would certainly have relished his activities.
After the war he became opening batsman for England with Dennis Compton, (who had played for Arsenal) and they re wrote many cricketing records in the next few years. That summer Bill scored 3,539 runs for county and country. In his cricketing career he scored nearly 37,000 runs (including 86 centuries) and was recognized as one of the top slip catchers of that generation. In addition to being a useful bowler with 479 first class wickets. His test career lasting from 1938 to 1955.
He was proclaimed Wisdom Cricketer of the Year in 1940 and one of the stands at Lords cricket ground bears his name. Bill passed away in 1986.
t- Keith 16024542
f- peter shearman (old non de plume)
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